ReFreshing a Community

Mar 4, 2015 by


Jeff Schwartz, see executive director of Broad Community Connections, buy cialis and I sat in the garden behind his ReFresh project to talk about this one-of-a-kind “fresh food hub.”  ReFresh is home to eight or so organizations ranging from local non-profits to a global moneymaker that came together under one roof to revitalize and unite the North Broad Street area of New Orleans.  As we walked around the North Broad Street area, thumb stepping on broken glass, the new ReFresh building contrasted with the run-down houses.  I couldn’t believe that this whippersnapper, Jeff, was the mastermind behind it.

A native New Orleanian, Jeff felt compelled to help rebuild New Orleans after Katrina pulled the rug out from beneath his city. He got his degree in Urban Planning and in 2010 started putting pieces into place on this project.

With the help of residents and community leaders he realized that providing food access, in the form of a grocery, would serve as a foundation to aid this historic neighborhood. He did that and so much more. While food is vital to survive, Jeff jumped on the opportunity to bring together partners to make Broad Street thrive.  Now, folks that need some groceries can go to the ReFresh building, walk through the lobby and see at risk youth learning employment and life skills to their left in Liberty’s Kitchen, see their friends participating in a free cooking class in Tulane’s Center for Culinary Medicine teaching kitchen in front of them, and run into neighbors as well as folks from outside their immediate community as they enter the produce section of Whole Foods on their right.  All this in an area where last year you’d be hard pressed to find someone to sell you an apple.

Jeff didn’t invent anything new or have any groundbreaking idea.  He had the logical thought to create a hub where non-profits and for-profits can come together over some food and provide vital services to a community that desperately needed them.  Jeff and his team busted their asses to bring the right people together and navigate real estate transactions and the complicated stuff required to make this happen. The outcome is something that Jeff believes can be translated to any community…a place where food brings people together and enhances their lives on every level.

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